Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Mission Trip for Missionaries

I had every intention of posting this back in May or June, but pregnancy and morning sickness really caught up with me.  I am posting it now, obviously.  :) Our missionary friends are in the U.S. on furlough and we really miss them, especially this time of year.  The following is just one of the fond memories we have with them.  

Early May we were honored to be invited along by some fellow missionaries on one of their out reach efforts.  The goal was to assist and encourage a national church planter, as he and his wife live and labor among a very closed neighborhood.  The neighborhood has permitted their children to come for daily after school tutoring and Bible studies, but the adults have been very reluctant to engage with Manuel and Glenda in anyway.  We offered very limited services; a very basic eye exam, dental care workshop, barber (turns out you can trust a bald barber), and ear cleaning.  I was able to weigh a few babies and go over warning signs in pregnancy with some of the ladies in the waiting area.  

All this gave the community a better opportunity to get to know Manuel and Glenda and to speak to some about spiritual matters.  We are thankful to our missionaries friends for allowing us to join them in part of their ministry.  It was a great ministry trip for our visiting niece and our kiddos.  They helped out in lots of areas.  Glamorous things like hauling water, sweeping up hair, and examining and cleaning out ears.  However, the best thing they did, the thing I am the proudest of is, they showed themselves friendly. Well done my young people.  

What do you think?  What makes short-term mission trips successful or not so successful?  What was the most important way you helped on your last mission trip?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

New Visas: Ministry Monday

Image courtesy of pakorn at

One of the less glamorous sides of long-term, cross-cultural work is immigration.  Last year we were finally able to go from tourist visas to year long temporary visas, temporary resident visas.  You can read about it here.  With temporary resident visas we do not have to leave the country to renew, but renew we must.  And the time for renewal has come.  Sam has spent much of the last two weeks buried under copies and copies of birth certificates, letters of invitation, passports and various other paperwork he had diligently been gathering for our renewal packet.  Due to changes in the process, some of our documents had to be translated this year.  Thankful, a missionary friend knew someone very good that could do it for us quickly.  In addition we have been working on getting Gracen a Mexican birth certificate and registered as a Mexican citizen.  This requires several trips to various offices and two witnesses to go with us for the final step, but it is now all completed.  Because Gracen is a Mexican citizen, we qualify for permanent resident visas, which means no more yearly renewal and more liberty for us.  We will now begin work on his U.S. documents at the American consulate.    

Image courtesy of scottchan at
Thankfully, only two trips to the immigration office were required this year!  Well, actually, they have accepted our packet.  We will still have to go in and get our cards and get finger printed and such, but getting our packet accepted is a big step.  Pray with us that the rest of the process is completed easily.  

Our little "anchor baby".  :)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!  

We were blessed to be able to celebrate with fellow missionaries that we love.  Everybody pitched in and we had turkey, stuffing, pecan pie...the works really.  And of course, we have so very much to be thankful for this year.  You can check out this post about Gracen's birth or this post of some of the fun ministry things we get to be a part of to see some of the awesome things we are so thankful for this year.

One of the things that is hard to find down here is sweet potatoes like the ones that grow in my grandmother's garden.  However, it might be that one of those sweet potatoes from my grandmother's garden ended up down here after one of our trips and it might have sprouted and then ended up in my garden.  Wednesday we dug up the area to see if we actually had any sweet potatoes under the ground...

Thought I would add this one, because, well, this is what is going on at our house and it's great!  Just have to share the cuteness!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Gracen's Birth

All photos taken by Anna Perez and are owned by Purposeful Wandering.  Use of photos is theft.

Two weeks ago today we passed through the waters on dry land.  As we watched the wild, angry sea swirl on each side, I wondered if it was there to scoop me up and whisk me away or if we would make the journey to the other side.  What we felt was the hand of God leading and the many prayers of friends and family.  Not only prayers, but many were working very hard to get much needed blood donated to replenish the liter and a half I had lost and in case another surgery was needed to remove my uterus, which no doubt would include even more blood loss.  There were times when I said out loud, "I'm scared".  Scared I was leaving behind my children and husband and newborn baby I had barely been able to hold.  Sam was a rock.  He reminded me my vitals were stable, my hands were warm, I was still alert and everybody was doing everything they could.  

Our beautiful boy made a spectacular entrance into the world after a very quick labor.  It was a little over two hours from the first contraction to when I held him in my arms.  

Did I mention it was intense.

It was not what I was expecting, but it was wonderful and overwhelming and we gave thanks for this fresh new life we were privileged to have in our home.  

Really intense.

After a bit Sam and I settled in to cuddle and admire him.  I felt great, he had done great from the beginning, all was well.

Then I noticed I was bleeding...a little too much.  We tried emptying my bladder, herbs, all the uterotonic drugs our midwives carry (oxytocin, misoprostol, ergometrine), we began an IV with oxytocin and reexamined the placenta for completeness.  Despite my uterus maintaining tone, I continued to bleed off and on and we decided to transport.  On the ride to the hospital I felt prompted to pray aloud and thank God for the midwives, our baby, this trial, for his guiding hand.  After six completely natural births, I received my first epidural!  I know, I have things a little backwards...I always have...never have been able to do things like everybody else.  I prayed aloud again in the O.R. as the doctors began trying to save my uterus and my life.  

That day was filled with times when my mind was clearer and I felt more stable.  In those moments, Sam and I put our heads together and stared at our new son and declared our love for one another as I tried to nourish the new life we had been given and enjoy my husbands embrace.  We all lay there together feeling God's arm around us and hands directing us.  We listened to the words coming from Sam's Ipad and we sang along.

"You broke my chains of sin and shame 
And you covered me with grace
And you mend my life with Your holy fire
You cover me with grace" - All Sons & Daughters

God gave wisdom to our midwives, to our doctors.  He sent friends to donate blood and friends to pray.  He also reached down and comforted us and, I believe, touched my body.  We are thankful for our chance to walk through the raging sea on dry land.  We are thankful to be able to look back two weeks later with both my life and my uterus.  We believe God did not have to show grace that day and we know we did not deserve the grace and kindness, but we are thankful for it.  

That day showed me many things, not all can be said thing I can share here is how touched we have been by the outpouring of love and prayers for us.  Thank you! 

"And yes Lord
We are grateful
For Your grace
And for Your love

Yes Lord
We are grateful
For Your grace
And for Your love"  -
All Sons & Daughters

And we gave thanks.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Preterm Labor: The 33 week scare

We wanted to say thank you one more time for all who prayed for the baby and I throughout the pregnancy.  From the first announcement you rejoiced with us, and we needed those extra prayers.  I had pretty extreme "all-day" sickness and even though I was tired and weak, little Gracen kept growing strong.

During the summer I felt well enough for us to take a trip to Honduras.  What a blessing to see all they are doing there and to get to be a little part of the ministry at hospital Loma de Luz.  You can read about our trip by clicking here.  

Upon returning we jumped full strength back into life here in Oaxaca.  The kids with school.  Sam with Bible studies, classes, and disciplining.  Everyone at the church was excited to see my growing belly and give it a little rub.  That's very socially acceptable here and even expected.  I didn't mind, we were so grateful for the new little life growing, we were happy to share the blessing.

The kids had settled into the new school routine and I was even getting my garden in order.  With all our comings and goings over the last several years, it seems getting the garden in order (a.k.a. weeding, lots of weeding) is a very reoccurring theme around here.

The kids had September 15 off of school for Mexican Independence Day, so I high-jacked a part of their day with gardening.  Do you know how much more weeding you can get done with 5 able bodied kids?  After I relieved them from their gardening duties I returned to the garden several times that day.  The problem was, with all the day's activities, I think I forgot to drink enough water.  As evening approached, I quickly changed clothes so we could head down town to see all the festivities going on for Independence Day.  We had a great time drinking coffee on the down town square (zocalo), people watching, parade watching, and we got a very close up fireworks display.  You can see it here.

It was shortly before midnight that we headed back to the car.  On the walk to the car I noticed I was having some pretty serious contractions that seemed close together.  By the time we got home, they were every 3 minutes and I had to breathe through them.  I got in a warm bath, started hydrating and contacted one of our midwives and our doctor.  Our doctor answered his phone, but he was out of town.  After trying a few more things the contractions calmed down and I slept for a while, only to wake up several hours later to strong contractions again.  This pattern repeated several times until late afternoon.

After consulting several doctors, we decide it was time to go to the hospital.  I went and took a shower and tried to get all my crying out, so I could be strong for whatever the next days and weeks had in store.  Because, the way the contractions felt, I was sure at a mere 33 week, our baby was about to make an entrance...and I was scared.  The hospital most equipped to take care of premies (the Civil Hospital), really doesn't have a NICU.  Take a deep breath and let that sink in a minute.

Up until this point we had kept our little trial to ourselves, but in that brief time I was trying to pull myself together in the shower, Sam sent out a cry for help, I mean an email asking for pray.  Your response was overwhelming.

Also while I was in the shower, I remembered an OB/GYN that I had worked with a few times and we gave him a call.  Not only was he in town, he was at the Civil Hospital where we were going to need to go.  What a huge relief to see a familiar face in all the chaos.

The incredible thing really was that after all those contractions, my cervix was still closed and long and the contractions did slow down and eventually stop after an injection of terbutaline.  I remained on bed rest for a week or two and we all breathed a huge sigh of relief as week 37 of my pregnancy came and went.  This has been what Sam has come to call the 33 week scare.  Little did we know it would be a good thing that we were a little familiar with the civil hospital, as I would end up there after Gracen's birth.  You can read about his birth here.

A note to all my midwifery friends.  I am aware of the studies coming out showing bed rest to have no effect on preterm labor, however, when it seems like every time you move you have contractions, you tend to try not to move.   No matter what the studies say, it seems even the best of us are susceptible to anecdotal evidence.   

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Gift of Friendship: Not. Forgotten.

Over the past 4+ years in Mexico we have moved several times.  Phone numbers and contact information has changed, sometimes we haven't had internet, email, or facebook.  And I had fallen out of the habit of reaching out to the lovely women who have walked with me through various places and stages of my life.  My husband  encouraged me to reach out, seeing the harm isolation was bringing.  

However,  my culture has changed too.  I no longer am privileged to think of those that do without theoretically.  I try to make my ever changing house a home, but at the same time those struggling to exist and feeling very trapped in their circumstances literally knock on my door.  I think I was afraid I wouldn't be able to relate to anyone anymore.  That talking about playdates or kid's school or home improvements would render me speechless.

And then I was given the best birthday present ever!  All morning, to my great surprise, I received phone call after phone call from women taking time out of their busy days to chat and wish me a Happy Birthday.  And you know what I discovered?  It was not hard to relate at all.  It was wonderful to talk about our shared passion of birth.  It was wonderful to hear their children were growing and thriving.  It was wonderful to hear they are enjoying new work and new opportunities.  It was wonderful to hear how they are seeing God work in their lives and walk with them in difficult situations. 

Their were so many of you who called that I didn't get to talk to you all, but I plan to reach out very soon and I am excited to hear all about what is happening in your lives.  

It was not until about 1:00 in the afternoon that I began to realize this was all put together by my wonderful husband.  In his desire to give me the most wonderful birthday present that I desperately needed, he reached out to many of the special women in my life that I have had the privilege of calling friend.  

Your response was overwhelming!

Thank you for being a part of one of the best and most meaningful gifts I have ever received.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Ministry Monday Week #13: On the Solid Rock

One of the songs we sang while traveling around the country on deputation was "I'm Standing on the Solid Rock."  It relays a great message and has a wonderful southern gospel tune.  Well, last year we sang the English version at a church here in Oaxaca, and the response was tremendous.  Many asked if we knew it in Spanish.  Finally, after a year of looking and even trying our own hand at translating it (to no avail), we found it.

Here's one of our first attempts at it.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Ministry Monday Week #12: Children's Church

We are really loving the new church here in Huayapam.  We feel so blessed to be a part of what God is doing here.  They have asked me to help with children's classes on occasion.  I am so grateful my Spanish is finally good enough to do classes comfortably....note I said comfortably, not perfectly.  Some sweet friends sent us an old school flannel graph set the first year we were on the field, so I've busted it out and use it sometimes.  The first class I used it, one of the kids said, "Oh!  Que Bonita!"  (How pretty!)  They really like it.  Sometimes I let them come up and retell the story using the flannel graph...big hit!  Kids are always fun to work with!

Lena is usually my helper, because we can practice the night before and make sure everything is smooth and we have all the right characters.  

One of the really sweet things they do is prayer time. Each child writes their prayer request on a piece of paper, then they exchange papers, and pray for each other.  

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Ministry Monday Week #11: Resurrection Sunday

Hope you had a great Easter.  We did!  We got to show off the grandparents at our church here in Huayapam.  What a blessing!  Everything was great from the prayer service to the song service to the preaching.  Sam preached a great message with a strong emphasis on the glorious victory that is summed up with three beautiful, powerful words, "It is finished". (John 19:30) 

I took a few snap shots of the kids doing a small craft of the empty tomb with a banner across that say, "Jesus Cristo ha resicitado!" (He is risen!)  

It is finished!

How was your weekend?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

For This Child I Prayed: 1 Samuel 1:27-28

I know that every child is a gift from God, uniquely placed in our care for such a short amount of time.  However, there was a time when it seemed if my husband looked at me the right way or held my hand long enough, I could get pregnant.  It seemed mostly in our control.  Our youngest was born four years after the other four and we thought it would be wonderful for him to have brothers and sisters around his age, so we started making plans in that direction almost as soon as Sam returned from Iraq.  But God had other plans and for seven years we have prayed and waited.  Just this year I really began to think that God was clearly saying the ministry we have here in Mexico and our five children were more than enough.  I almost gave away the cloth nappies in January, but decided to wait just a few more months until my friend's baby was born and we would go visit her.  Then in February we got this almost unbelievable, surprise blessing!  After a few weeks of letting the news settle in and really become real, we are ready to announce that a new baby will be arriving later this year!

So in the grateful words of Hannah we say, " For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him:" and let us not forget that as parents we should also strive as Hannah place our children back in the hands of the Lord.  1 Samuel 1:27-28

Have to say, our kiddos are really good sports!  :)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ministry Monday Week #10: Pure Religion

I know some of you may have read this in our prayer letter or on Sam's blog, but I wanted to share it here also.  I have not included any pictures here, because we try to walk a fine line between sharing and not exploiting as this is actually a very delicate situation.

In late January, we received a knock at the gate by a lady asking for money to take her “laboring” daughter to the hospital.  It is not our practice to give money, so Carie being a midwife volunteered to go with the lady to check on her “laboring” daughter, Lupita.  To no surprise, Lupita was not in labor and was only in her 7th month.  However, that knock on our gate has changed our life, added to our ministry, and has re-taught us a scriptural truth, “Pure religion and undefiled.”

Since that knock, Carie and I have made many visits to that family and the mother has since abandoned the family, once again, and has been on another drunken hiatus for more than two months.  They are unsure when or if she will return.  What does that mean?  Lupita (18) has been left to care for her newborn and her 1 year old, 4 year old, 6 year old, 9 year old, and 13 year old siblings, as well as her grandparents, grandfather (92) and grandmother (80).  Though the grandparents try to help, their age limits them greatly.

We are always mindful and careful to not establish a dependency on us or American dollars, but we have been heartbroken for this family, their lost-ness, and the affliction they are going through.  We were at a loss, for what we should do, so we prayed.  So one night on visitation I took one of the couples of the church to visit the “Luz” family, as we left they too were heartbroken.  They have since motivated the church to gather food dispenses and gathered for a work day to clean and repair the small home of Lupita, which included the burning of old mattresses and purchasing of new ones.  Many brought clothes and sheets, clean supplies, etc.

The CHURCH has felt the call to reach out, the CHURCH has been praying and working with this family, and GOD has received ALL glory and honor for what has been happening.  However, they are still lost.

Please be in prayer for this family as we continue to minister to them.  Carie has been providing post partum Carie to Lupita and the baby.  The kids go with us every Sunday to church, and I plan to start “listening” to the bible with the family by use of a “Proclaimer” one or two afternoons per week since the grandparents cannot read.  Somehow I have earned the respected name of “Don” Samuel, please pray for me as I continue to share the gospel and the love of Christ with this family.  Please pray for their salvation.

“If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.  Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”  James 1:26-27               

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ministry Monday Week #9: Celebrating Four Years!

April 3rd marked the four year anniversary of the eventful trip from Rogers, Arkansas to Jerez, Zacatecas, Mexico!  You can read about that trip by CLICKING HERE and HERE.  It has not been the easiest four years, but we are still here and hopefully it is God who has gotten the glory.

You do not have to do a very thorough search to find the hard fact that missionary attrition is very high.  Some say as many as 80% will not finish their first term (traditionally a term has been considered four years).  We would like to send a huge and humble thank you to all who have supported us and prayed for us.

On one trip back to the US we were visiting my grandmother's church way out in the country of Arkansas.  An older couple came up to talk with us, both faithful, humble Christians of many years.  They said, "We want you to know we pray for you everyday."  I could not hold back the tears.  I thought to myself, that is why we are still on the field, because you pray for us everyday.

To celebrate our four year milestone, we tried a new restaurant.  Not just a new restaurant, but a whole new experience.  We had "sopa de piedra" or "rock soup".  It is a traditional way of preparing soup in which all the ingredients for the soup are placed in a large gourd bowl.  Then a very hot rock is placed in the soup and immediately served to you.  When they bring it, the soup is boiling and bubbling. By the time it stops, your soup is cooked and ready to eat.  Now that gives a whole new meaning to fresh!

Hey Samuel, I think the dog chewed up your boogie board.  WHAT!  Just kidding!  LOL!  Sorry about the picture quality.  We only had our phone camera with us.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Faith and Love: Let God Handle the Rest

Do you ever read a portion of scripture and just fall in love with it, because it speaks to your heart and situation so much.  I love when God speaks to me in that way.  A week or so ago, I was directed to 1 Thessalonians 5:18 during a devotional and because I like to get the context of what is being said I read all of chapter 5 and because I was so touched and encouraged I went through my day chanting, "I am putting on the breastplate of faith and love" (1 Thes. 5:8) and I read it again the next day and I cling to being obedient to faith and love.

Faith that God would use how I love others to do His work and the product was rejoicing (1 Thes. 5:16), prayerful meditation (1 Thes. 5:17), thankfulness (1 Thes 5:18).  Then I branched out and read the whole book several times.  I listened to it as I drifted off to sleep.  I refreshed it in my mind in the morning, the beautiful book of faith and love.  The simple truth of faith and love.

1 Thessalonians 1:3 says:
Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God our Father.
This is the whole theme of the book.  That we labor in love throughout our day, towards our spouses, children, friends, and neighbors, that we have faith God is using this labor of love in our lives and in theirs, that we do this because of the hope we have in Jesus Christ and the salvation he brings.  (1 Thes 1:3 and 5:8)

In the middle chapter Paul demonstrates the walk of faith and love and hope.  In the final chapter he encourages us again in this principal.

But let us who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for and helmet, the hope of salvation.  (1 Thes 5:8)

Read and be encouraged for "Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it."  (1 Thes 5:24)

Love people, Have faith, Praise God for your hope!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ministry Minday Week #8: Mexican Baby Showers

The short devotion was well received.
Here in Oaxaca, Mexicans have adopted the U.S tradition of a baby shower.  They call them "Baby Showers" with a slight Mexican accent.  They like to have fun and play some of the usual baby shower games.  Like most Mexican celebrations there is usually a meal involved even if it is modest.  They have decorations such as balloons and signs, often homemade, but usually not a cake.  Dessert is often jello based or something similar to tres leche.  If the family is Christian there is often a small devotion on family or motherhood.  I have had the privilege of doing a devotion at a Mexican baby shower before.

Recently I was invited to the baby shower of one of the ladies at the newly formed church here in Huayapam.  It was unique in that both non-Christian family and church family attended.  It was a good opportunity for her family to see how much her church family cares for her, for them to see us pray and hear a few gentle scriptures about the blessings of children and motherhood. 

Above we are playing a "multitasking game" in which you have to hold your baby, talk on the phone and hang up your clothes.  I tied my baby on rebozo style and was really moving along until I dropped the phone!  That was not mine!  That splatted in pieces all over the floor!  Turns out I am a little rusty at multitasking.  The ladies thought it was hilarious and the phone worked fine after they got it put back together.  You can see my reaction.

One interesting game they have played at every baby shower I have attended is the "lip stick" game.  No one marks their gift.  The new mama opens the gift and then she has to guess who brought it.  If she guesses correct she gets to mark their face with lip stick, but if she is wrong, the person who brought the gift gets to mark her face.  I have never gone to a baby shower were they have not guessed my gift and this one was no exception.  I guess no matter how hard I try, something screams American or maybe my face gives it away.  I guess I probably should not try poker anytime soon.

I was also able to be part of a little private baby shower.  When I gave the prenatal class to all the ladies at the church in the city they brought a gift for a young pregnant mom in my village.  I have done some of her prenatal care and knew she was probably not going to get a shower.  She was supposed to come to the prenatal class with me and we were going to surprise her with a mini shower, but she could not make it because she had to stay home and watch her younger brothers and sister, so I got the honor of taking her the gifts.  Please pray for her and her family.  They are dear to our hearts.  I hope the gifts were a demonstration that others care for her.  Someday I hope she knows how much Jesus cares for her.  

Those of you who are interested in all things birth, will probably find it interesting that she was told by her doctor that her pelvis was too small and that they needed to schedule a c-section.  The c-section rate is around 80% here, so this is pretty par for the course.  I told her there was no way to know until birth.  She gave birth naturally just three days later.  Mom and baby are doing well!